Seattle Schools Disciplining Black Students At Alarming Rate
Washington state has been called the liberal Pacific Northwest, which conjures up romantic notions of a place were people are more sensitive to and encouraging of racial difference, particularly in public spaces such as American schools. But recent information from the U. S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into disturbing allegations of racial discrimination against African American students by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly than their white counterparts.
African-American students are suspended from school more than three times as often as white students from elementary schools to high schools. More than one-fourth of black middle school students have received short-term suspensions every year since 1996. Native Americans, as well, are disciplined more often than Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Parents and administrators have been aware of this issue of alarmingly high black student discipline rates for years, and now the Department of Education is involved.
The District Superintendent, José Banda, acknowledged that there are problems with student discipline and said he intends to do something about the disparities. “I think we have a serious problem here…we acknowledge that…the data is clear…there is a disproportionate number of students of color being suspended and expelled…It’s something that we’re moving on, in addition to working with the Department of Education, who are conducting their own review,” Banda said.
Two advisory review boards have been set up by the Seattle Public Schools to study the exorbitantly high numbers of incidences related to Blacks and school discipline and, hopefully, make policy recommendations. The NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union of Washington both expressed concerned about the 50,000 students suspended or expelled in the state each year, which only hastens the school-to-prison pipeline that young black people experience in general in American schools.